The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

Local News

December 21, 2013

Gauley Bridge being sued over offer to buy high school

They say you can’t fight city hall, but that old saying didn’t stop a Montgomery man from filing a civil suit against an entire town.

Barry Blackburn filed a suit in Fayette County Circuit Court against the Town of Gauley Bridge because he claims the town went back on an offer he made to buy the town’s high school.

According to the civil complaint, at a July 9 city council meeting, Gauley Bridge Mayor John S. Kauff brought up for first reading the sale of Gauley Bridge High School. At that meeting, a majority of council members agreed to sell the school and asked the mayor to decide the best way to do so.

At the July 23 city council meeting, councilman Tim Blankenship made a motion to sell the school, which was seconded by Gladys Kauff. Council voted 5-1 to sell the school.

Afterward, on Aug. 7, Gauley Bridge posted an ad in The Register-Herald for bids to buy the school. The ad said bids had to be received by 4 p.m. Aug. 9, 2013.

Blackburn put in a sealed bid within the time frame given by the ad.

Bids for the school were opened at a meeting Aug. 13 and Blackburn had the highest bid at $28,555.

Mayor Kauff allegedly told Blackburn he was going to accept the bid.

It was announced that the bid would be taken or turned down at the Aug. 27 council meeting. However, that meeting was canceled because enough council members didn’t show up.

At a meeting Sept. 10, Kauff announced that he had taken the bid. The complaint says one or more council members told the mayor he didn’t have the power to accept the bid. Blackburn said the sale had already been allowed and he did everything listed in the original ad.

Blackburn is looking for a judgment from the court or an unreleased amount for damages. According to officials at the Fayette County courthouse, no trial date has been set.

— E-mail: cneff@register-herald.com

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